In academia, it’s publish or perish (meaning a professor without publication credits isn’t going to get tenure). In business, it’s publish and promote.
You don’t have to publish anything to run a successful business. But if you don’t, you’re missing out on an extremely efficient way to promote your brand.
By publishing, we mean something heftier than an occasional social media post or even an industry journal article.
By publishing, we mean a book.
It doesn’t matter whether the book is in print or electronic format (though it could be both). Nor does it need to be particularly lengthy; it should not be a long-winded tome of "War and Peace" dimensions. In fact, it most definitely must not be overly long and dense. The goal should be to tell a story that in one way or another explains you and your business, and helps set you and your business apart from everyone else.
How to Publish Without a Publisher
What happens if you can’t find a publisher? The easy answer is to self-publish your work. There are some convenient self-publishing platforms for e-books, including Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Liberio. For actual hold-in-your-hand printed books, there’s xLibris and iUniverse, among others.
We’d recommend you stick to e-books, though, because the costs of publishing are considerably lower than print books. For e-books, you typically pay just a percentage of copies you sell online, as opposed to print book packages. Print not only includes the cost of the physical product but also added features like editing and marketing (which you can do yourself).
Related Article: Inspiration Awaits: 5 Influential Business Books You Need to Read
Self-Publishing Has Grown Up
But isn’t self-publishing just for vanity projects? Won’t everyone dismiss my work as not professional enough for “real” publishing? Not anymore. "The Guardian" reports that “the media this spring has been abuzz with stories of self-publishing success.”
Writing Forward notes that, “In recent years, self-publishing has become an acceptable way for authors to share their work with a readership.”
Besides, you’re not looking to get reviewed in "The New York Times" (though that would be nice). You’re looking to develop a “product” that helps promote your brand; to get potential customers thinking about your company and what you have to offer; to differentiate yourself from your competitors; and to express a vision to your employees, partners and clients.
Finding Content for an E-Book
James Altucher, author of eight books (two of which were self-published) says every entrepreneur can and should self-publish a book because you already have content. It’s called your blog.
Take a look at all the posts you’ve published over the years and do the following:
- Determine the overall theme that could be the subject of a book (e.g., How We Inspire Better Customer Performance, How to Sell More Online, How Our Technology Makes the World a Better Place)
- Organize various topics into what could be chapters that support the overall theme.
- Expand topics with some added research.
- Provide case studies of how your company achieves whatever your “how to” theme might be.
What’s the big deal about that? Aren’t you just publishing a collection of blog posts?
We’ll let James Altucher respond to that. “So what? It’s okay if you are curating what you feel your best posts are. And for a small price people can get that curation and read it in a different format. There’s value there.”
But what if you don’t have much of a blog, or a consistent theme among the blog posts you do have? What if your blog is written by other people? Should you give up on the idea of a book? Not necessarily.
Before we get into alternate ideas for content, though, let’s back up and note that a blog is also an essential marketing tool. You should have a blog that has regular updates and a consistent theme to promote your brand, company and products. One or several talented writers can publish to it, not necessarily by you personally.
The point about your blog is the same as for your book—if you’re not a writer, you need to hire one.
Related Article: 9 Things You Shouldn't Do When Creating an eBook
Why Spend Money On a Writer?
It costs you money to run an ad, or to do any marketing. It costs you money to hire employees to do the things that need to get done so your company can be successful. Why should this be any different?
Maybe you’ve got a marketing person who is already a pretty good writer. So your book becomes a new project. Maybe you even give that person a co-author credit as an added incentive. (But since you’re paying that person as your employee, you wouldn’t necessarily have to share royalties, unless, of course, you want to be generous.)
But let’s say you don’t have anyone with writing talent. Hire someone. You don’t need to hire a dedicated employee. There are plenty of writers-for-hire out there. Here are the advantages:
- You get a professional product by someone who knows how to create useful content.
- People will read the book because it is by someone who knows how to write something people want to read.
Making Money Off Your Book
Will you make money from the actual sale of the book? You might. But where you are going to make money is the new business you generate from new clients who’ve read your book, are impressed by it, and want to put your ideas into practice for them.